He had been in leadership positions for the Senate of Serampore from 2013, guiding the 75 theological colleges and seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. He was an eminent scholar of religions and authored several books and articles. An ordained minister of the Church of North India, Patro completed his PhD from the United Theological College, Bangalore, under the Senate of Serampore. In a distinguished teaching career, he taught at the Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, Assam, India and the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, before becoming registrar of the Senate of Serampore.
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) reflected, “Rev. Dr Patro's contributions in strengthening theological education in South Asia and reforming the theological curriculum are a great legacy that will be remembered with gratitude. In his tireless quest to make theological education accessible to the most underserved communities in the Global South, he was also associated with the GlobeTheoLib (Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism) Consortium, a project of Globethics.net and the World Council of Churches.”
He contributed to and strengthened the long history of a close working relationship between WCC and the Senate of Serampore. From the 1950s, the ecumenical movement has acknowledged and supported the importance of local churches to conduct mission and do theological formation from their context, and not to be directed and controlled extraneously. The theological institutions of Serampore, deeply rooted among the local communities, with more than a 200-year legacy, has been an inspiration to the wider ecumenical movement.
Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba, programme executive for Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) noted: "The ETE programme joins the family and the Senate of Serampore in mourning the deep loss of our ecumenical colleague and collaborator, Rev. Dr Santanu Patro. My predecessors Dr Deitrich Werner and Dr Amélé Ekué encountered him and enjoyed a productive working relationship with him.”
Werner said: “This is an unexpected and great loss. We had appreciated and enjoyed working together for several years in the area of ecumenical theological education in my previous role as ETE staff in WCC and as a longstanding friend of Indian theological colleges. I highly appreciated Dr Santanu’s competence, ecumenical vision, passion and human warmth and humility which he had shown in so many encounters.”
Ekué said: "It is with sadness that I learn of the passing on of Rev. Dr Santanu Patro, whom I had the privilege to collaborate with in the period of 2014 to 2019 as part of my Ecumenical Theological Education portfolio tasks. Rev. Dr Santanu Patro's calm and warm personality, combined with his professional rigour and keen interest in advancing the agenda of a genuinely contextual theological education in India and beyond. He will remain in my memory as an inspiration for my own professional journey. I will not forget the warmth of his hospitality during my first visit to Serampore in 2015, nor the many conferences we attended together in different places of the world. May he rest in God's eternal peace and may his family be consoled by the One, who holds us in his tender embrace in moments of profound loss, now and all days."